Annual Conference 2022 (And beyond) Update
For the first time since 2019 our North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church held their Annual Conference in person June 1-4 at the Classic Center in Athens, Ga. Our church was well-represented with Pastor Juan and myself, our two lay delegates (Mickey Stanfield and Danny Gaetan), as well as two at-large delegates (Janet Sligar and Gwenda Booth). Registration, as well as different gatherings and meetings, began Wednesday afternoon. The Clergy Executive Session was held Thursday morning and the official start and Call to Order happened Thursday afternoon. During the following two days many reports were given and different ministry areas were shared and celebrated, as well as different resolutions being voted on, by over 1500 clergy and laity. The theme for the Conference was A Place for You at The Table and five values to live by as Christian Methodists were shared throughout the three days. The values were integrity, courage, inclusion, connection, and transformation. Here are a few additional highlights:
· 30 Clergy retired
· 13 Elders and 5 Deacons were ordained
· 7 Churches in the North GA Conference were closed (One of which I served in the Griffin area 14 years ago)
· Rev. Dr. Byron Thomas, currently serving as one of our District Superintendents, was affirmed as an Episcopal nominee making him eligible to be appointed as a future Bishop.
· Pastor Juan and I have been reappointed as your pastors for another year. This will be Juan’s 6th and my 7th year here at NFUMC.
· May 31 – June 3, 2023 will be the next Annual Conference, once again held in Athens
A potentially tense moment was when discussion about and vote was taken for the 70 churches seeking disaffiliation from the United Methodist denomination. I was relieved that no negative discussion took place. The Bishop offered a well-thought-out prayer for those churches and congregations.
I was able to speak to several pastors who are exactly where we are as a UM Church as they too were waiting and watching to see how the process was handled this year. I am convinced more than ever that we are on the best path toward disaffiliation before next year’s Annual Conference. My intentions are to have our Administrative Council vote at the next meeting (late summer 2022) on moving forward with officially disaffiliating from the United Methodist denomination over scriptural authority and sanctity issues and joining the newly formed Global Methodist Church. If our Administrative Council agrees, then we will schedule a called Charge Conference with our District Superintendent either by the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023 for him to preside over our church vote for disaffiliation. ALL members of NFUMC will be invited to attend that Charge Conference and only those members physically in attendance will be allowed to vote. A 2/3rds vote must be achieved in order for the disaffiliation paperwork to be properly presented to our Conference. At the next scheduled Annual Conference, May 31-June 3, 2023, our church will be voted on by the delegation of our Conference to be fully disaffiliated. Much work is still to be done before all of that happens, but I am certain of my convictions and believe this is the best path for us as God’s church moving forward.
Please feel free to contact me about this if you have any questions or comments or concerns and please, PLEASE join me in continuing to pray for God’s will to be done as we continue to be a missional church for Jesus Christ. It is an honor and true blessing to be reappointed as your Senior Pastor for our 7th year together, and I am so excited about all that God is doing for, with, and through us as we worship and serve together.